Originally posted on danmillerinpanama:

The First Lady is a true royal princess. She demands that
we all make difficult choices just as she must do daily.
Let’s all help her out.

Yesterday, I received this urgent e-mail from First Lady Obama (FLO).  All, from the lowest to the highest, have been asked to help her.

Friend –

Here it is, straight up:

Tomorrow’s a big fundraising deadline.

It’s a simple equation, really: What we put into this campaign is what we’ll get out of it.

Please chip in $3 or whatever you can afford before tomorrow’s deadline:

https://donate.barackobama.com/May-Deadline

I’m ready to work, and I hope you are, too.

Thank you — and see you out there,

Michelle

FLO’s promise to work is no less inspiring than the straightforward candor of her refreshing message: “what we put into this campaign is what we’ll get out of it.” She forced me to ponder: how ready am…

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Originally posted on Rebecca Mott:

Prostitution is always made to be something that happens to some other woman or girl.

If you are female and reading this – know if about two or three things go seriously wrong – it could be you. If you get in with wrong crowd and have the need to impress or to be invisible – it could be you.

Don’t make the prostituted into the Other – for what will do if you become that Other.

The Othering is everywhere and made nowhere – all talk of prostitution being chosen is Othering; all insistence that prostitution is just sex work is Othering; all speech that true prostitution only exist with poor women and girls, only with women and girls of certain nationalities, cultures or ethnicities is Othering; all speeches saying that only street prostitution is harmful is Othering.

I know you make us the Other to protect yourself, to imagine that…

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Eurodoom and Hunting

MORNING BRIEFING – By Benedict Brogan (Daily Telegraph).

Another day, another scary development in the eurozone: today we report that Spainis facing “total emergency” as the country risks being frozen out of global capital markets and slides towards an epic showdown with Europe. Andrew Roberts of RBS describes a ‘negative feedback loop’ that can take Spainbeyond the point of no return. You can read the full story here.

The FT splash “Rush for havens as euro fears rise” captures yesterday’s flight to safety: British yields fell to their lowest level since 1703. Germany’s two-year bond yields fell to zero for the first time, below the equivalent rate for Japan, meaning investors are willing to lend to Berlin for no return.

All of a sudden Spain looks like Greece – it has a crashing economy, run on the banks – but this time it’s much bigger and more frightening.

Today too the Irish vote in their referendum. It’s worth picking out the FT’s picture of a Sinn Fein stunt to illustrate this: a man dressed as a stormtrooper outside the Dail standing by a sign that reads ‘Bundestag Irish office’. The markets are in for a bumpy ride.

A WAKE UP CALL FOR GEORGE OSBORNE

Closer to home, things still don’t look good for George Osborne. The FT’s leader column – titled “A wake up call for George Osborne” - urges the Chancellor to get a grip, while on the opposite page Conservative Home’s co-editor Paul Goodman suggests that the Chancellor could line up an EU referendum. He says:

“No wonder the Treasury has not moved to deny persistent claims that Mr Osborne is advising Mr Cameron to commit the Tories at the next election to an EU renegotiation referendum. Such a gambit would disrupt the UK Independence party, which is committed to an in-out poll; outmanoeuvre Ed Miliband, who is mulling the same option; and spike the guns of the London Mayor, who is flaunting his eurosceptic views before the Tory faithful like a medieval jester parading his livery.

I touched on the issue in my column yesterday: backbenchers are desperate for Mr Osborne to stop faffing about and start bringing some clarity and purpose to his operation. This week’s u-turns drive them nuts.

One told me MPs who used to defend Government policies when a constituent complained about them now issue vague holding answers, fearing that the policy might be reversed the minute they speak out to support it. There was another U-turn yesterday, by the way – on buzzards.

The Tory Right seem to be thinking of ways to punish him for all this. We report that the Institute of Economic Affairs has suggested that the Chancellor should be fined 20 per cent of his pay if he fails to deliver a balanced Budget every year.

And there are other financial concerns for the Chancellor-cum-strategist. The Times (£) reports that venture capitalist Jon Moulton doesn’t want to fund the Tories anymore. He said that George’s economic plan is too optimistic and that the charity tax has left him feeling “very uncomfortable”.

THE HEIGHT OF HUNTING SEASON

All this said, to my mind the most telling, implication-packed story today is Roland Watson’s fascinating account of a Downing Street briefing operation against Sir Jeremy Heywood. No 10 folk apparently blame him for the Leveson inquiry which, as many of us pointed out at the time, has turned into a monster that daily bites this Government’s backside.

We should remind ourselves of course that it was Gus O’Donnell – not Sir Jeremy – who was Cabinet Secretary when Leveson was set up last summer. Some of the blame must surely be landed on him. And bring Now what does that mean line up to end previous par.

A split between the PM and his chief official is a bad sign, and suggests No 10 is shaken and wobbling. Even more ominous is this line in the story: “It is understood that George Osborne was cautious about pressing ahead swiftly with the inquiry.”

Now, what might that mean? Jeremy Hunt appears before Leveson today. No 10 has argued for him to be allowed to make his case, and points out that what matters is how he behaved, not what he believed – in other words, Vince Cable was opposed to the deal, but no one suggests he behaves improperly. Let’s see what the hundreds of pages of documents from Mr Hunt that will be released today reveal. The FT (£) claims his adviser leaked details of the BBC licence fee settlement to Fred Michel.

Meanwhile, Sue Cameron in the Telegraph reveals who the mandarins rate in the race to succeed David Cameron. She lines up George Osborne (not as a shoo-in though), Michael Gove (apparently his Cabinet colleagues “fear him”), Philip Hammond (not as close to the PM as you might think) and Theresa May (despite being branded “not the brightest of bunnies”).

In the Guardian, Patrick Wintour has an interesting analysis of Andy Coulson’s arrest and its implications on David Cameron. He says:

“The question arises whether Cameron ever held that eyeball to eyeball confrontation with Coulson over the stream of allegations, or instead looked at the source of those allegations and rejected them.”

‘22 REASONS TO GET IT TOGETHER

And, of course, don’t forget the beast within. The new 1922 Committee is proving no easier than the last. New co-Secretary Nick de Bois gave an interview to the Huffington Post yesterday, warning that the Government U-turns are “frustrating” and “irritating” to Tory Backbenchers, and if they keep happening they could start to seriously damage the coalition’s credibility. He added:

“It has been immensely irritating to have been distracted by cornish pasties, and even caravan tax, which of course are important to the people they concern, I get that. But it’s taken the eye off what the Budget has done. Everything we do should be focused on generating fiscal discipline and creating a climate for growth.”

DAVE’S JUBILATION?

No 10 think all this horridness will go away though. In this week’s Spectator James Forsyth reveals that Downing Street aides are convinced that this summer’s events will help restore Dave’s reputation – the Jubilee and Olympics will be enough to wash it all away. All the more reason to be in the papers praising the Queen, eh Dave?

ROAD TAX ATTACK

We’ve splashed on the Government’s new road tax. Government officials have begun discussions with the motoring industry and drivers’ groups about an overhaul of the Vehicle Excise Duty rules. The talks come as ministers try to prevent a fall in tax revenues as more motorists choose smaller, cleaner cars that incur a lower rate of duty. Labour has accused the Coalition of planning a “stealth tax” on drivers, effectively punishing them for going green.

Ministers say that while they have not finalised their plans, changes may be necessary to ensure the “sustainability of the public finances”.

TWEETS AND TWITS

Baroness Jenkin spots a few interesting characters in Westminster last night:

“@Baronessjenkin: @eyespymp it WAS Pamela Anderson who flew in to support Frank and Vivienne Westwood celebrating Cool Earth’s 5th birthday #surrealevening!”

If you enjoy “Tweets and Twits” make sure you buy a copy of the Spectator this week. Andrew Roberts has a wonderful article on MPs’ endless inanities on Twitter and how it risks dispelling the mystique of parliament.

POLL WATCH

Latest YouGov/The Sun results: Conservatives 32%, Labour 44%, Lib Dems 9%, UKIP 7%

Overall government approval rating: -36

TOP COMMENT

In The Telegraph

Peter Oborne: It may seem painless, but drone war in Afghanistan is destroying the West’s reputation

Sue Cameron: What would happen if David Cameron was run over by a bus?

Bruce Anderson: England is a green and pleasant man-made land

Leader: The broken society

Best of the rest

Paul Goodman in the Financial Times (£): Prepare for Osborne’s greatest gamble

Leader in the Financial Times (£): A wake-up call for George Osborne

Camilla Cavendish in the Times (£): But what about the super-class, Mr Milburn?

Timothy Garton Ash in the Guardian: Cameron mustn’t visit Ukraine while Tymoshenko remains imprisoned

THE AGENDA

Today: Justice Minister Jonathan Djanogly will set out proposals for extending the powers of the Legal Ombudsman.

Today: Business Minister Mark Prisk will provide an update on business incubators

Today: Ireland votes in a referendum

10am: Jeremy Hunt appears before the Leveson Inquiry. The Royal Courts of Justice, The Strand, London

10am: Boris Johnson and Bernard Hogan-Howe appear before London Assembly Police and Crime Committee. City Hall, The Queen’s Walk

1pm: Herman van Rompuy addresses Chatham House, 10   St James’s Square, London

George Osborne has locked himself into an austerity cage. Now it threatens to destroy his career

According to Janan Ganesh, one of the political correspondents at the Economist, and George Osborne’s biographer, the Chancellor takes the Financial Times very seriously. “Their editorial verdicts are often seen as shorthand for respectable, moderate opinion among elites”, wrote Ganesh, shortly after the Budget.

If that’s true, then the Chancellor will be worrying this morning. The newspaper has devoted its top leader column to a full-throated attack on Osborne, while across the page, they’ve given space to Paul Goodman, the co-editor of Conservative Home, to explain why Tory patience with him is being tested. As they say in the leader:

Mr Osborne’s silence has allowed the toxic message to take hold in some quarters that the government uses the rhetoric of togetherness in adversity while taking care of its rich chums. The chancellor can still counter this – and he must. The central thrust of his economic policy is sound. It is the glue that binds the coalition together. Were doubts to set in, the government could unravel…

Read more….

What would happen if David Cameron was run over by a bus?

When Margaret Thatcher was in her pomp, one of her aides was asked what would happen if she were to be run over by a bus. He thought for a moment and then shook his head. “No,” he said firmly. “The bus wouldn’t dare.”

Today there is not quite the same confidence. The newspapers are competing to notch up the biggest number of Government U-turns so far – 32 and counting seems to be the best assessment – and critics have started speculating about the Tory succession. The exercise may be premature, perhaps wildly so, but it is easy to see how it started. With his Budget being systematically unpicked, George Osborne, the Chancellor, is certainly not the shoo-in he would once have been to take over from David Cameron as prime minister in the event of an unfortunate bus crash.

So, as politicians start discussing the odds on likely successors, and with the Coalition coming up to mid-term, what are the views of the civil servants who deal every day, up close and personal with senior ministers? Who would they rate as the runners and riders for No 10?

Read more…

Admit it, chaps – you just prefer other chaps

Those charming pictures of Ken Clarke, portly, recumbent and dozing lightly during the cricket, are a timely reminder of why senior jobs require men to do them. Thank goodness, with the country in one of the worst economic downturns in living memory, that a minister in a government which has been lecturing people to work harder feels he can fall asleep, not just on the job, but at a midweek sporting event. Good old Ken, with his stockinged tootsies poking seductively through a railing and slipped-off Hush Puppy wafting cheesily on the summer air! What woman could possibly hope to compete at that level?

Just imagine if it was Theresa May who had gone to the tennis, knocked back a few Pimms, fallen into a stupor and kicked off her kitten heels. Would she attract admiration in the press? But no, let’s not get carried away. Women really aren’t up to that sort of high-powered behaviour. As we know, women are under-represented in senior positions because they are stupid. Stupidly conscientious and stupidly worried about what people might think if they, say, started snoring in broad daylight when they were being paid to do an important job.

Read more….

Syria: rebel army issues ultimatum on UN ceasefire

In a statement, the main rebel group said they would abandon the truce unless the ultimatum was met.

“If the Syrian regime does not meet the deadline by Friday midday, the command of the Free Syrian Army announces that it will no longer be tied by any commitment to the Annan plan … and our duty will be … to defend civilians,” it said.

The ultimatum followed reports by the UN of two massacres of civilians in the past week, leaving an April 12 ceasefire negotiated by UN-Arab League peace envoy Kofi Annan in tatters. The former UN Secretary General visited Damascus this week in a vain effort to reinforce the plan.

More than 100 people died, including 49 children and 34 women, in the central town of Houla.

Some were blown to bits by artillery and tank fire but most were summarily executed, according to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Read more….

OBL And The Genie

While trying to escape through Pakistan, Osama Bin Laden found a bottle on the sand and picked it up. Suddenly, a female Genie popped out and with a smile said: 

“Master, may I grant you one wish?” 

Osama responded, “You ignorant, unworthy daughter-of-a-dog!  Don’t you know who I am?  I don’t need any common woman giving me anything.” 

The shocked Genie said, “please, I must grant you a wish or I will be returned to that bottle forever.” 

Osama thought a moment, then grumbled about the impertinence of the woman and said, “Very well, I want to awaken with three American women in my bed in the morning.  So just do it and be off wit you.” 

The annoyed Genie said, “so be it!” and disappeared. 

The next morning Bin Laden woke up in bed with Lorena Bobbitt, Tonya Harding, and Hillary Clinton at his side. 

His penis was gone, his knees were broken, and he had no health insurance. 

God is good.

(Curtesy http://lupuschronicles.com)

The Three Bears

THIS SHOULD END ALL 3 BEARS STORIES 

Baby Bear goes downstairs and sits in his small chair at the table, he looks into his small bowl and finds  It is empty. ‘Who’s been eating my porridge?!!, he squeaks.  

Papa Bear arrives at the big table and sits in his big chair. He looks into his big bowl, and it is also empty. ‘Who’s been eating my Porridge?!!,’ he roars. 

Momma Bear puts her head through the serving hatch from the kitchen and yells, ‘For Christ’s sake, how many times do we have to go through this with you idiots?  

‘It was Momma Bear who got up first, it was Momma Bear who woke everyone in the house, it was Momma Bear who made the coffee, it was Momma Bear who unloaded the dishwasher from last night, and put everything away, it was Momma Bear who went out in the cold early morning air to fetch the newspaper, it was Momma Bear who set the damn table, it was Momma Bear who put the friggin cat out, cleaned the litter box, and filled the cat’s water and food dish, and, now that you’ve decided to drag your sorry bear-asses downstairs, and grace Momma Bear’s kitchen with your grumpy presence, listen good, cause I’m only going to say this one more time: 

‘I HAVEN’T MADE THE FRICCKING PORRIDGE YET!!’

(Curtesy http://lupuschronicles.com)